National Geographic : 1914 Jul
CONSERVING THE BEAUTY OF NATURE BEAUTY BRINGS CHEERFULNESS AND SOCIAL HAPPINESS The housing problem for mechanics and operatives has already been solved in a business way by the English Garden City. In cities already too compactly built and with too lofty structures the improvement of the human environment must await better understanding of life's needs or change of taste in popu lations now unwholesomely congested. With the diffusion of knowledge concern ing healthy and happy conditions for family life and the industrial life of the laborious masses this reformation of our cities and manufacturing towns will surely come about, but in coming about it must take account of something more than water supplies, sewers, and street lights; it must take account of beauty and of all that brings cheerfulness and social happiness. The collective force of the community must further supply the means of mak ing rural and landscape pleasures occa sionally accessible to city populations by means of parks and gardens which illus trate all forms of open-country beauty and permit the occasional enjoyment by city families or larger urban groups of the outdoor pleasures which woods, shrubberies, gardens, and broad fields can give. All city dwellers greatly need these occasional delights, and Americans more than any other people; for they have become accustomed to an indoor life, and have come to rely on electricity as a substitute for sunlight, and mechan ical ventilation as an equivalent for fresh air. Even the richer sort of Americans are often content to live in houses in which at least one-third of the cubical contents cannot be used without artifi cial light the year round, and to occupy offices in which electricity has to rein force sunlight during the greater part of the year. The proper use of the natural materials for creating on public ground fine land scapes, gardens, and scenes of rural beauty involves an extensive study of these materials. The landscape architect must know how to use a near or distant prospect of hills and woods. He must know the trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants valuable in landscape or in gar dens, or along walks and drives where thousands of people daily pass. He must know all the native materials for creating scenes of beauty, and all the imported materials which have proved available in the climate of the reservation he plans. And in order that the landscape archi tect may have the opportunity to study these materials, society must furnish places where they may be assembled, ap propriately used, and thoroughly tested. ENCOURAGE PUBLIC INTEREST IN ANIMAL AND VEGETABLE LIFE In other words, the collective force of society should be used to provide and maintain living collections of these ma terials of landscape and garden beauty, where climate, soil, and scenery make it possible to assemble, cultivate, and ex hibit them advantageously. The botanic gardens and arboretums which universi ties and governments maintain do not fully answer this purpose, although they contribute to it; because the lay-out of the botanical gardens and arboretums is made for a scientific purpose quite different from that which directs the thoughts of the landscape architect. There is another source of keen enjoy ment for city people which should be provided for when parks, gardens, and playgrounds are constructed for their pleasure, namely, the natural interest in animal life as well as vegetable life. Most men and nearly all women take a keen interest in bird life-in the migra tion, nesting, family life, and feeding habits of birds, both land birds and sea fowl. It is one of the advantages of sub urban over city life that many varieties of birds can be seen and studied in the suburbs. The collective force of society, therefore, should be exerted to preserve all the species of birds which are profit able, not only for food and crop protec tion, but also for the stirring of.human sympathy and delight in their colors, songs, and alert, sprightly ways. The provision of sanctuaries for birds, of closed spaces as well as closed seasons, is a highly expedient use of the collective protective force of society against indi vidual destroyers of bird life.